Opinion

Police chief: Los Banos public safety, essential services need Measure H votes

Hello my name is Gary Brizzee, and I am the Chief of Police for the City of Los Banos.

In 2017, the Los Banos Police Department received 19,047 9-1-1 calls and police department personnel worked over 49,500 total incidents. Our police and fire departments serve one of the fastest growing areas in California, but we’ve been down nine police officers, firefighters and 911 dispatchers since the recession. Our rising population has resulted in a significant increase in calls annually over the last few years. Of course, increased calls means the number of incidents has also increased and adequate staffing is imperative to providing essential public safety services. We must be able to serve the thousands of new residents moving into our neighborhoods. Fire Chief Mason Hurley and I have recommended increasing Los Banos’ public safety services staffing including additional police officers, firefighters and dispatchers.

On July 18, the Los Banos City Council unanimously placed Measure H – a local half cent sales tax – on the Nov. 6 ballot. If approved, Measure H can provide local funds for public safety and essential local services.

If you have not seen in the recent news, much of the violent crime in Los Banos is gang-related. Maintaining our police force and the prevention programs that keep kids, neighborhoods, schools and parks safe is a top priority because we know that crime, gang and drug activity is affecting our Los Banos neighborhoods. Maintaining police patrols keeps Los Banos safe. Besides maintaining and protecting police and fire, Measure H could also protect and enhance anti-gang and youth violence prevention programs and provide support for public recreation facilities intended to provide both seniors and children with recreational alternatives.

After engaging the community through extensive community feedback efforts earlier this year, residents identified what city services were most important to them. If approved, Measure H can fund community identified priorities such as:

▪  answering 911 calls;

▪  preventing theft, residential property, and auto-related crimes like burglary and robbery;

▪  protecting and maintaining 911 response times for police officers and firefighters;

▪  protecting and maintaining anti-gang and youth violence protection programs;

▪  maintaining and improving parks; and

▪  providing fiscal stability and local control over taxpayer dollars.

An independent survey conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates earlier this year indicated as much as 75 percent of respondents would support a local funding measure that would only require a simple majority for passage.

Measure H requires all funds to be used in Los Banos, this provides local control over our resources. Also required is an independent oversight committee and annual spending reports to ensure that funds are spent as promised. And most importantly, no funds can be taken by Sacramento.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6, and there are 11 state propositions on the ballot as well as several statewide and local candidates. Please make it all the way through your ballot and remember to make an informed vote on Measure H.

For more information about Measure H and the Los Banos Police Department, visit www.losbanos.org.

Brizzee is the police chief in Los Banos.

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